Critique : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

What did people think about Edgar Alan Poe's poems?

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001


You may find some good sources for contemporary reactions at From what I have read, Poe's first attempts to present his poetry were commercially awkward, such as the attempt to pay off West Point debts by selling a volume to his classmates without including the funny satires of the teachers he was noted for. Losing the contest for "Coliseum" further bruised his ego, though not enough that he did not become the most astute and sharpest critic of American poetry in several journals. They called him "Tomahawk Poe." When "The Raven" became the biggest "hit" of any Amercian poe, he finally became Edgar Poe, Poet. He performed it often and started slipping in others like "Ulalume." Parodies appeared immediately. Emerson called Poe "the jingle man" and not kindly since Poe was trashing Longfellow routinely. For an idea of Poe's dilemma as a "popular" poet read Tennyson's "Popular, unpopular"(a brief poem). Poe was defensive of his work and downplayed or overplayed the craft he used. I believe most people missed quite a lot of what lay behind the strong, unique emotion the poems created as well as the details of their artistry. Read Poe's "The Poetic Principle" and reviews on others and you will see the world he was addressing, often blindly in search of trivial, didactic works of impressive bulk, naively imitative of Britain and sometimes comically engrossed in the search for the Great American Epic. Poe devalued the epic form. The reasons Poe is popular still today are much the same as then.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

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